Posted at 07:32 PM ET, 01/23/2012

Ron Paul deploys his Web army on the TSA | @MentionMachine

What does Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) run-in with the Transportation Safety Administration in a Nashville airport today have to do with @MentionManchine?

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.), who consistently has the highest volume of Twitter mentions of any of the 2012 candidates measured in the @MentionMachine, fired off this tweet just after 10 a.m. Monday.

He posted a similar message on his Facebook page about the “detainment” of his son, Rand. TSA later issued a statment that Sen. Paul wasn’t detained, but was escorted to an alternative screening procedure area after he refused a pat-down.

By then, though, Ron Paul’s tweet had already hit its target — the highly engaged online followers who help distribute his libertarian-leaning message. Mentions of Paul spiked and his top tweets were all regarding Rand’s TSA run-in.

Both Pauls have been critical of the TSA’s pat-down procedures in the past. You can watch Rand Paul grill TSA Administrator Jon Pistole in a hearing here, and watch Ron Paul rail against the agency on the House floor here.

Social analytics Web site Topsy recorded 40,050 mentions of TSA on social channels Monday, up from 5,000 the day before.

In addition to the crush of Twitter traffic, more than 20,000 people liked Paul’s Facebook posts and more than 8,000 commented on them.

By noon ET, the incident had been widely reported on political news sites. Rand Paul spent his afternoon speaking to press about the incident and Ron Paul later issued a statment on “TSA abuses.


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